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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe Americas30 years after our ‘endless wars’ in the Middle East began, still...

30 years after our ‘endless wars’ in the Middle East began, still no end in sight

Author: Bruce Riedel

Affiliation: Brookings, Washington, D.C., USA.

Organization/Publisher: Brookings

Date/Place: July 27, 2020/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Words Count: 1207


Keywords: Endless war, Middle East, USA


Author Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institute senior fellow and director of its The Intelligence Project, and a 30-year CIA veteran and senior security advisor under four US Presidents,  reminisces about how the US objective of temporary short-term combat operations has resulted in its “endless war” in the Middle East. Its first official combat operation in the Middle East was “Operation Blue Bat” which was prompted by a coup in Iraq when its army overthrew the most pro-Western government. The perception at that time was that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, believed by US President Eisenhower to be a Soviet proxy, was behind the coup. The next combat operation resulted in 1962 when Egypt and the Soviets intervened in Yemen to support a republican coup against a monarchy.  In response to a request made by the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the US Air Force was deployed to protect the Saudi royalists in mid-1963; known as “Operation Hard Surface,” it lasted six months. The Iran-Iraq war in 1980 and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 changed the scenario, and although George H.W. Bush “tried” to avoid open-ended war, he deployed more than a half million US troops to the Gulf with the intention of protecting Saudi Arabia; “Operation Desert Shield” followed, and Americans have remained in combat in the region since then. The author mentions the miscalculation of George W. Bush in invading Iraq back in 2003, when he ignored the warning from his National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft that it would divert critical resources from the fight against terrorism. The invasion has been called the worst decision in American foreign policy ever. The author concludes that the US’ policies in the Middle East has shown that the US administration from Bush to Trump has realized getting in is easy but getting out is seemingly impossible. 

By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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